Higher School Certificate exams begin on Monday and students across western Sydney are in the study groove.
Mitchell High school students Lucas Villarino, Samuel Chappuas, and sisters Vanessa and Melissa Win studied together at Blacktown’s Max Webber Library in preparation for their first exam — English.
They are among the more than 76,000 in NSW who will sit a HSC exam this year.
Read past HSC students reflections here.
English is really hard to prepare for because you don’t know what’s going to come up.
Vanessa has memorised quotes from texts including Shakespeare’s Hamlet, film Blade Runner and the poetry of Peter Skrzynecki for her first exam.
‘‘English is really hard to prepare for because you don’t know what’s going to come up,’’ she said.
‘‘You just look at past papers and memorise quotes.’’
Vanessa said the best study advice she had received from her teachers was to ‘‘go do the past papers, and when you’re studying to take breaks and not to drown yourself in it’’.
Melissa has studied an average of six or seven hours a day during her study vacation and said she is looking forward to the Biology exam more than English.
‘‘Biology you just have to memorise a lot of content, whereas English the topics are very broad,’’ she said.
‘‘To do a whole past paper [for practice] normally takes about three hours.’’
Samuel got one exam out of the way last year through accelerated study — French Beginners — and said the experience will mean he is calmer through his others, which include mathematics extension 1 and 2.
‘‘It’s a huge relief,’’ he said.
‘‘I held myself together last year but I was pretty nervous. This year I’ll be more relaxed.
‘‘Maths is my favourite subject because it comes naturally to me, English I’m not too happy with because it’s more words and I’m more of a logical person — I like to see numbers and solve problems.
‘‘They expect a lot of us I think nowadays, and I guess it’s not always as easy for us to find the motivation to go in and do our studies.
‘‘We eventually get there because we want to do well and have that good mark at the end of the year, ultimately.’’
Lucas, whose family is from Argentina, said having native Spanish speakers at home was great preparation for his Spanish Continuers exams.
‘‘It helps a lot because it’s like you’re constantly studying,’’ he said.
‘‘The first English exam I expect to be very difficult.’’
Sarah Gorman hopes to enrol in medicine at The University of Western Sydney and is also studying hard.
The year 12 student at McCarthy Catholic College, Emu Plains, has participated in Nepean Hospital’s ‘Health Dimensions’ work experience program and the UWS Fast Forward program, which encourages students to consider a degree after high school.
Successfully completing the HSC shows resilience.
‘‘UWS is terrific and I want to be part of it, however HSC first,’’ Sarah said.
‘‘Medicine will be a challenge, both intellectually and knowing how to relate positively with patients.’’
Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) president Tom Alegounarias said the HSC could seem overwhelming but concluded a 13 year school journey which left students well prepared for the exams.
‘‘Successfully completing the HSC shows resilience,’’ he said.
‘‘It is a challenge, but it is founded on quality syllabuses that provide students with skills that will be of use in further study, at work and throughout adult life.’’
Tips from a HSC marker
Baulkham Hills High School teacher Noelene Barkas has marked HSC business studies papers, which are scanned and sent to her via computer. To make writing more legible, she advises:
- leave a space between lines
- set out paragraphs
- use black biro not blue, because it’s easier to scan and easier to read
- hand-write practice essays to have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame and how neatly.